May 12th | Immigration Roundtable

New AustCham South China members, Fragomen, gave presentations this morning on changes to visa requirements and processing in both Australia and China. Attendees took advantage of this opportunity to ask about details from lead times to port of entrance, and even sending your kids to school in China. Held as a single-topic seminar in an intimate setting, this event gave our attendees direct access to experts on immigration processesin both countries. Special thanks to Servcorp for providing the perfect space for a professional event.

Becky Xia, expert on Chinese visa processing, clarified a number of questions regarding the recently-announced changes. Overall, immigration policy has been centralised, rather than being set at province-level, though processing still takes place in provincial bureaus. Applicants without two years of experience or a degree, or who are over the official retirement age, may also be considered (as opposed to being excluded automatically previously).

Further, while those whose Z visas were approved under the previous system don’t have to re-apply, certain extra paperwork from back home may be required when renewing. Becky also briefed us on the introduction of the new working permit card, which is much easier to carry around than a passport, and the classification of foreign nationals into three categories according to criteria including salary, credentials, experience, ageand Chinese language proficiency.

After a quick break, Alex Paterson, co-managing partner of Fragomen’s Australian practice, explained the recent and coming changes to Australia’s 457 visas. This is a hot topic for locals and foreign nationals in both our countries. Divided into short-term (ST) and medium-/long-term (MLT) lists of required skills and occupations, only those in MLT positions will be eligible for permanent residency. ST holders will have a maximum of four years (a maximum of two terms of two years each).

A number of caveats have also been introduced. These changes will be reviewed this July, in what looks to be a yearly review. The government will also introduce labour market testing, similar to the UK, details of which are as-yet unclear. Finally, a levy will be charged to companies employing foreign nationals on 457 visas, which will be allocated to education and training programs.

If you weren’t able to make it today, please feel free to contact us at the AustCham office and we’ll forward your questions. Thanks again to Fragomen’s Alex Paterson and Becky Xia for travelling to Guangzhou to give your expert advice and clarification. The small scale of the event allowed us to directly meet attendee’s needs and answer specific questions. Keep an eye out for future events following the same principles, driven by the new Events Sub-Committee and supported by Servcorp in the coming months.